Trail Blazers vs. Nuggets Game 5 score: Nikola Jokic shines as Denver crushes Portland to take 3-2 series lead

The Denver Nuggets are rolling. After a clutch win in Game 4 over the weekend to even up their second-round series with the Portland Trail Blazers at 2-2, the Nuggets came back home and put together a dominant 124-98 victory in Game 5. Now up 3-2, they'll have two chances to close out the series and advance to the Western Conference finals for the first time since 2009. 

They took control right from the jump, opening up a 7-0 lead in the first few minutes. And though the Trail Blazers closed the gap for a few minutes, the Nuggets never trailed in the first half. Over the final 4:43 of the second quarter, they used a 16-6 run to really blow the game open. Up 18 at halftime, the Nuggets never looked back, extending their lead to 31 points in the third quarter before cruising the rest of the way. 

Nikola Jokic led the way with 25 points, 19 rebounds and six assists, while Paul Millsap put together his highest-scoring game of the postseason with 24 points. Jamal Murray also played well, adding 18 points, five rebounds and nine assists. On the Trail Blazers side, Damian Lillard led the way with 22 points, but he needed 21 shots to get them. No one else on Portland scored more than 14 points. 

The series will now shift back to Portland, where the Blazes will face a must-win Game 6. 

Here are a few takeaways from the Nuggets' important victory:

Murray was on one

Jamal Murray has been stellar for the Nuggets in this series, and he was back at it again in Game 5. He didn't put up quite the numbers he has in the past few games, but he still finished with 18 points on 7-of-14 from the field, five rebounds and nine assists in 27 minutes. Perhaps most important was that Murray was instrumental in the Nuggets' second-quarter run that broke the game open. During their 16-6 run over the final 4:43 of the frame, Murray was directly involved in 12 of those points either by scoring or assisting. But even beyond the stats, the way Murray played was notable. He licked his fingers after one basket in that second-quarter run and showed plenty of style out on the fast break in the second half. Even his mistakes were exciting, as he started breaking out all sorts of ball fakes.

Millsap feasts on Blazers' defensive game plan

For many of the meaningful minutes in Game 5, the Trail Blazers switched Al-Farouq Aminu onto Nikola Jokic, which left Enes Kanter guarding Paul Millsap. The move didn't work in either direction. Jokic still put his stamp on the game with a 25-point, 19-rebound night, while Millsap feasted on Kanter. Aminu had been making life difficult for Millsap in the series, but the veteran had no such trouble with the bigger, less mobile defender. Millsap finished with his highest-scoring game of the postseason, registering 24 points and eight rebounds. When the Nuggets signed Millsap to a big three-year, $90 million deal, this was the exact type of performance they envisioned.

Lillard and McCollum don't deliver

The Trail Blazers' dynamic backcourt of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum has been the catalyst for so much of the team's success. Game 5 was not one of their finest performances though, and the Trail Blazers never had a chance with the performances they delivered. Together they combined for just 34 points on 14-of-47 from the field. To put that in perspective, those two have had three different performances during the playoffs where one of them alone has scored more than 34 points. Tuesday night's performance was one of the first signs that perhaps the duo is wearing down a bit from how much they've had to do this entire season. Regardless, the Blazers need much better efforts in Game 6 or their season will be over.

Recap of live updates

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How to watch Game 6

  • Date: Thursday, May 9
  • Time: 10:30 p.m. ET
  • Location: Moda Center -- Portland, Oregon
  • TV channel: ESPN
  • Live stats: GameTracker  
  • Online streaming: Watch ESPN
  • Odds: N/A at this time

TV listings

All games will air on ESPN, ABC, TNT and NBA TV during the postseason. Games on TNT and NBA TV can be streamed via fuboTV (try it for free).

NBA Writer

Jack Maloney lives and writes in Milwaukee, where, like the Bucks, he is trying to own the future. Full Bio

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